Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
these people for the right reasons.  No, the only really rueful part of the business was the revelation to me of what the great people can put up with, in the way of being feted, and the extent to which they seem able to give themselves away to these pretty women.  It must be enervating, I think, and even exhausting, to be so pawed and caressed; but it’s natural enough, and if it amuses them, I’m not going to find fault.  My only fear is that Legard and the rest think they are really living with these people.  They are not doing that; they are only being roped in for the fun of the performance.  These charming ladies just ensnare the big people, make them chatter, and then get together, as they did to-day, and compare the locks of hair they have snipped from their Samsons.  But it isn’t a bit malicious—­it’s simply childish; and, by Jove, I enjoyed myself tremendously.  Now, don’t pull a long face, Kaye!  Of course it was very cheap—­and I don’t say that anyone ought to enjoy that sort of thing enough to pursue it.  But if it comes in my way, why, it is like a dish of sweetmeats!  I don’t approve of it, but it was like a story out of Boccaccio, full of life and zest, even though the pestilence was at work down in the city.  We must not think ill of life too easily!  I don’t say that these people are living what is called the highest life.  But, after all, I only saw them amusing themselves.  There were some children about, nice children, sensibly dressed, well-behaved, full of go, and yet properly drilled.  These women are good wives and good mothers; and I expect they have both spirit and tenderness, when either is wanted.  I’m not going to bemoan their light-mindedness; at all events, I thought it was very pleasant, and they were very good to me.  They saw I wasn’t a first-hander or a thoroughbred, and they made it easy for me.  No, it was a happy time for me—­and, by George, how they fed us!  I expect the women looked after all that.  I daresay that, as far as economics go, it was all wrong, and that these people are only a sort of scum on the surface of society.  But it is a pretty scum, shot with bright colours.  Anyhow, it is no good beginning by trying to alter them!  If you could alter everything else, they would fall into line, because they are good-humoured and sensible.  And as long as people are kindly and full of life, I shall not complain; I would rather have that than a dreary high-mindedness.”

Father Payne rose.  “Oh, do go on, Father!” said someone.

“No, my boy,” said Father Payne, “I’m boiling over with impressions—­rooms, carpets, china, flowers, ladies’ dresses!  But that must all settle down a bit.  In a few days I’ll interrogate my memory, like Wordsworth, and see if there is anything of permanent worth there!”

XLVIII

OF AMBIGUITY

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Project Gutenberg
Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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